A Guide to Betting on Esports
One of the biggest emerging sectors on the online betting scene is that of esports. Something of a niche pursuit up until relatively recent times, the world of competitive gaming has emerged from the shadows to become a truly global phenomenon. Just how big are esports and the betting which surrounds them? A few facts and stats should help provide some scale:
- Over 1 billion individuals take part in video gaming.
- Over 270 million regular viewers of live esports matches.
- Thousands of matches every day.
- Millions in prize money awarded to professional teams and players yearly.
- The value of the esports betting market estimated at close to $2billion.
What are Esports?
First things first, what exactly is an Esport? Standing for electronic sport, the term simply refers to the area of competitive video gaming. Whilst in essence all video gaming is competitive - whether you are trying to beat your mate on FIFA or emerge triumphant from a Fortnite Battle Royale – the use of the term esports is related to the professional sphere i.e., individual players or teams competing against one another for glory, and quite often rather large sums of cash.
Most Popular Esports to Bet On
Such is the nature of the industry that esports will likely be a forever ever-changing playing field. There are nevertheless those games which reach the top and stay there. As of 2022 the biggest leagues and tournaments tend to centre around one of the following five.
Counter Strike: Global Offensive, or CS:GO for short is currently the biggest First Person Shooter (FPS) in the world. Centring around a classic Terrorists vs Counter-Terrorists battle, the game pits two teams against one another on a range of varied maps. The ESL Pro League is the major event of the year for CS:GO fans and players.
Defence of the Ancients 2 (DOTA 2) sees two teams of five lock horns in Multiplayer Online Battle Arena (MOBA) combat. Containing an expanding cast of 100+ individual characters, all with distinct attributes, the game calls for a huge amount of strategy. The International Dota 2 Championships is screened live by ESPN and offers over $20 million in prize money.
League of Legends
League of Legends is something of a Real Time Strategy (RTS) and MOBA hybrid. Just as in Dota 2, League of Legends features an extensive list of characters and sees two teams of five players do battle. The aim of the game being to achieve specific objectives or destroy the opposition “Nexus”. The League of Legends season centres around the World Championships in which teams compete for the prestigious “Summoners Cup” and over $2 million in prize money.
A creation of World of Warcraft developers, Blizzard Entertainment, Overwatch is a FPS that, whilst not quite as expansive as a title such as CS:GO, does offer a far broader cast of characters and abilities.
At one stage the biggest recreational video game in the world, Fortnite has also made a splash in the professional sphere. A classic Battle Royale in which 100 players play down to 1, Fornite distinguishes itself from the competition through tactical elements such as the gathering of resources and structure building.
Esports: Most Popular Betting Markets
- Match Winner - A simple bet on who will win the match. Matches usually being played on a best of 1, 3, or 5 basis.
- Live Betting - Betting as the match unfolds. Hugely popular with the growth in livestreaming on sites such as Twitch or Youtube.
- Handicap Betting - A betting market in which one team is given a theoretical handicap to overcome. E.g. Team Astralis (-1.5) vs Team Cloud9 (+1.5), A bet on Team Astralis (-1.5) would win should they win by two or more points/maps. Any other result would see a bet on Team Cloud9 (+1.5) win.
- Long Term Markets - A bet on a team or player to win a specific tournament/league/event.
- Correct Score - Just as in standard sports betting, a bet on the correct score of an individual match.
- Specials - A very game specific area, ranging from first team to first ten kills, to team to kill the first dragon, and much more besides.
Esports Betting Hints
And finally, for those interested in dipping their toes into what may well become the biggest growth sector in online betting, we finish with a few handy hints to bear in mind.
Bet on the Games You Know Best
Betting on any event in which you don’t fully understand the rules is a sure route to disaster, and so it is with esports. Before placing your hard-earned cash, the strong recommendation is to fully research the game, with one of the quickest ways to learn being to play the games. Once you have a feel for a particular game and the key success factors, you will be in a far stronger position to make a betting judgment.
Do Your Research
In addition to a grasp of the rules, keeping up with all the latest developments regarding teams and players may help give you the edge. How have teams fared against one another in the past? Is a star player missing or out of form? Does one side have a motivational advantage? Which maps will feature in a particular match? All are questions well worth considering. A quick online search will reveal a whole host of gaming communities, with Reddit being a particularly useful source of information.
Watch the Matches
And of course, the best way to get a grip on the teams and players involved is to watch the games. Seeing how a game unfolds will provide far greater insight than a quick scan of the results. Picking up on the strengths and weaknesses of the teams and assessing how they are likely to stack up against one another can be worth its weight in betting gold.
Don’t Blindly Follow the Hype
Just as in all sports there are those teams and players who attract a disproportionate amount of hype and coverage. Whilst much of this attention may be merited, try not to get too caught up in it. Better advice is to keep an eye out for newer or improving teams that may be undervalued by the oddsmakers. Team Astralis is a recent example of a team who emerged from relative obscurity to claim glory on the biggest stage.
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